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Hive off Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions into separate administrative units to disburse funds and accelerate development uniformly. There has always been an allegation that the Muslim-majority Valley discriminates against the other two regions—Hindu-majority Jammu and Buddhist-majority Ladakh, which comprise over 85 per cent of the state’s land area and half the population. Trifurcation will restrict the area of terrorism to Kashmir.
The Catch: Politicians see trifurcation as a strategy to cut Kashmir’s influence/dominance over the other two regions.
Articles 370 and 35A
These two articles of the Constitution of India grant special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Article 370 restricts Parliament’s legislative power in J&K. Article 35A, which comes in Appendix 1 of the Constitution, flows from Article 370. It empowers the J&K legislature to define the state’s permanent residents and their rights.
The Catch: The Union government believes the two articles prevent the complete integration of the state with the country.
The Centre views delimitation of constituencies as a long-overdue measure in a state that gives unfair advantage to Kashmir over Jammu and Ladakh. Kashmir comprises 46 assembly seats, or 52.87 per cent representation, in an assembly of 87 elected members. Jammu and Ladakh account for 37 and four. If Jammu and Ladakh get more, or equal, seats than Kashmir through delimitation, the BJP will gain the upper hand as the two regions, mainly Jammu, are the party’s strongholds.
The Catch: Delimitation will end the state’s Kashmir-centric politics, the Muslim-centric Valley parties will lose relevance, and the power centre will tilt towards Jammu and Ladakh. Some BJP leaders say the Valley is numerically overrepresented, but Jammu’s average population per assembly is over 1.45 lakh, while it is close to 1.5 lakh for Kashmir. Thus the claim doesn’t hold. Besides, there’s a freeze on delimitation until 2026.
The government plans a first-ever investor summit in Srinagar, followed by another in Jammu in September-October. It is aimed at bringing investment and jobs—two things the state needs the most after decades of insurgency. As part of a clean-up to remove corruption, Jammu and Kashmir Bank is likely to be merged with the State Bank of India.
The Catch: Such measures are floated to dispel the perception that central rule has brought peace to the state and it is no longer the strife-torn region it used to be. Such economic pushes, mostly in the form of financial packages/promises, have failed before. Besides, the long-drawn militancy has put the state’s primarily (80 per cent) agriculture-based economy in tatters. The conflict has hit its handicrafts such as carpets, woolens and silk, and the once-flourishing tourism sector.
Improving the administrative setup and bringing development are seen as the biggest measures to mainstream Kashmir. The focus is on delivery of basic services to the grassroots and weeding out corruption. A ‘Back to Village’ scheme, which saw government officials camping in remote villages, was well-received.
The Catch: Experts believe steps to win back the people’s hearts will remain rhetorical until New Delhi de-escalates the military presence in the state and checks the mounting anti-Kashmiri sentiments outside the Valley.
Several fresh faces emerged from the panchayat elections, which were boycotted by the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Catch: Most new sarpanches, elected unopposed, are BJP-friendly and the party hopes some of them would be ready to fight assembly elections. The state is under President’s rule since June last year.